| Good news: the Missoula City Council will allow its citizens to vote on a referendum on the Iraq War in November.
There have been the usual complaints made from the usual corners:
...local jeweler, Jim Adair, who has a son in the Marines, echoed others in the crowd, maintaining the council has no say in foreign affairs and the measure is an insult to the armed forces.
"Not one of you were elected to advise the president or the Congress on international issues," he said. "If you want to do the right thing, support our troops."
First, every one of us -- every American citizen, man, woman, and child -- has the right to advise the President and Congress on international issues. Thus, the First Amendment.
Second, holding a referendum on Iraq is not an "insult" to the troops -- such an accusation is an insult. Expressing our God-given rights in a democratic forum is a celebration of our liberties and rights. Overextending tours of duty, denying veterans adequate health care, slashing veteran benefits, sending troops into war without the proper equipment and training, sending them on a mission with no discernable goal or strategy -- in short, treating each and every member of our armed forces as disposable trash -- all the while thwarting our democratic institutions here at home, that is an insult to the troops and to the people and country they fight for.
Shame on those council members who voted to deny Missoulians a voice in the biggest issue of our lifetimes. The only reason I can think of to block such a vote is out of fear of the outcome of the referendum. That, my friends, is a terrible reason to obstruct an election.
Congratulations to Mayor John Engen for casting the deciding vote.